The Top 100 Games: #100 Portal
Mar 14th, 2014 by Ice Cream Jonsey

#100 – PORTAL (2007, PC, Valve)

My Internet comedy partner, Pinback, and I have had long discussions about all manner of media. Video games, for sure. But also movies and television shows. One of the concepts I have floated towards Pinback is that of the "minimum we should expect."

I think that video games are an immature medium that seems to constantly fall backwards. The technology improves, sure — the most clever programmers are game programmers, and it’s sad that you hear about the long hours many of them work and the pay that doesn’t quite match what they could get for other companies. Video games have the most immature writing of any form of entertainment that I can think of.

Which leads to Portal.

Nerds did their best to ruin it like they did Monty Python and Douglas Adams. Hell, a buddy of mine bought me a "The Cake Is A Lie" shirt and I don’t think we ever had more than a couple Portal-based conversations together. It just dominated the end of 2007 and most of 2008. You couldn’t escape it if you were on the internet. and not trying to overthrow a government with social media.

The act of moving through portals is fun, and there are a few clever puzzles in there, but that’s not why this game is the 100th best ever made. Portal is so memorable because of the character of GlaDOS and the writing of Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek.

(It wouldn’t exist at all without Kim Swift. She was the lead on one of the greatest games I have ever played. I don’t want to short change the contributions of anyone who worked on Portal. I just happened to have a special, crazed, possibly unhealthy one-way relationship with Chet and Erik. The problem is with me.)

Everyone at JC knows this, but in case this gets linked elsewhere, Chet and Erik wrote for Without that site (and Amiga Power 2) I wouldn’t even be on the Internet. Not like this — they proved what a website could do, how it could be unique, how anyone’s voice will rise if it is funny enough. They took shots at everyone, but saved the best ones for themselves and each other. And this madcap hilarity comes through every time GlaDOS insults the player.

Telling the player that you should feel bad because you’re probably adopted isn’t just wacky for gamer dads, it’s great for everyone.

The rest of the game really is OK. It’s fine! I think that a lot of puzzle games suffer from the fact that you can sort of "see" the solution in your mind, and then it just becomes a skill test to execute. Portal is one of those games. But God, that moment where you jump off the rails and go to a very different place….

So, the minimum. Portal is the minimum we should expect from writing, plot and dialogue in a video game. Every game should have at least one character as fleshed out as GlaDOS. Most of them don’t. Most of the games that are above Portal on this list don’t, they just happen to do other things extremely well. But Portal is the minimum of what I should be getting out of a computer game if that game is going to be considered legendary. It begins our new list

Pandora: First Contact, Initial Impressions
Dec 30th, 2013 by Pinback

Pandora: First Contact is out, by the way. Yes, it still has the worst name possible. But after three hours of gameplay, let’s take a look at my impressions!


It is very much Civilization in space (or Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri), but feels simpler and more straightforward. Which I like! As tremendous an accomplishment as I think Civ 5 is, golly there’s a lot of crap going on.

P:FC does away with most of the extra stuff, and presents you with some pretty base-line 4X action. The factions (races) are all pre-set. There is no race customization. There are five different planet sizes and three different types of planets, and that’s it. Setting up a game is fast because there’s just not that much to choose from.

Once you’re in-game, you’re comfortable right away assuming you’ve played any of these games in the last 20 years. Which I hope you have, because get this: There is NO DOCUMENTATION, other than in-game tooltips, hover boxes and popups! So that’s it, I guess. We’ve gone from 150 page printed manuals, to 50-page PDF files, to nothing.

Impressively (and because it IS so straightforward) this isn’t really a problem. You build stuff, you research stuff, you sign deals with the other guys, and you blow stuff up. That’s it. Just like always.

The graphics range from overly cartoonish to quite beautiful (some of the undersea aliens are especially striking to behold). Not on par with Civ 5, but golly, good enough. That’s probably a good way to sum up most of the game.

Extra bonus points for a clean, sleek UI that makes sense, pretty good writing, and a remarkable lack of typos and misspellings, which is becoming ever so rare.

Right now I would have to say that this is my favorite 4X game for the moment, because it’s fun, it’s fast, it doesn’t tire you or tie you down with minutiae, and it sticks to what made 4X great in the first place.

I give Pandora: First Contact an 8 out of 10! I guess? I dunno what the two points are knocked off for, as I really didn’t have any complaints. Other than the name.

Autumn Cyberganked Update
Dec 2nd, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

This quarter’s update to the progress of Cyberganked is over here at Indie Game News.

Lots of news there that makes me happy. Randy had another successful year with the haunted house, and I was able to get a lot more characters photographed inside. (If you are ever in Denver during October, please visit his haunted house! It’s easily the best in the state of Colorado.)

One other thing that makes me happy is that I have started to implement automated tests. It’s tricky for me to do that with Hugo: there’s no “headless” mode, I don’t develop with a real IDE, and my tool of choice to script the game and test against output would be Selenium, which is not something I can use at the moment. I did finally come to a solution to these problems, which was to stop being such a baby, and do the automation that I COULD do.

Waaah! WAaaaaaargh!” — that was me irl

So I now have a system in place to pull my code from its repository and at least grep for some strings and values, and send me an e-mail if it doesn’t work. For instance, I usually set the hit points to some enemies to 1 in order to test what happens after they are defeated. Now, at least, if the Psycho of Western Hill has 1 HP, I will get a reminder to fix it when I wake up in the morning.

There’s one last bit I wanted to share about how development is going:

I can’t do transparencies in Hugo. I can’t put one image over another. Well, I could, but they would be square or rectangular images. I also don’t have the ability to manipulate graphics at a per-pixel level. This is fine, I knew this going in and I have made four other games with graphics just fine.

But there was one effect I wanted – when meeting one antagonist that wore shades, I wanted the first character in the player’s party to be reflected in those shades. I had two choices to get this effect done — First, I could create a separate static image for every single actor in the game and reflect them in the shades. There’s 22 different actors for player characters, so that would mean creating 22 different images. I could do that, or I could do the other option, which is to not have that effect in the game at all. I chose the former.

Randy has a dentist’s office room for his haunt. There are little teeth glued to the wall — the reason for this is that in the haunted house’s mythology, the dentist is extracting teeth and chucking them against the wall. It’s dark there though, so most people do not see it. Teller says that “Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” Along the same lines, I burned an evening of my life making 22 separate jpgs for this one scene in my game. I say that not because I think it is supposed to impress anyone, but because when I finish this game I hope that people who have never played one of my games before can take some solace in the fact that a crazy person made it for them.

I made a page here in case you’d like to be on an e-mail list to be notified when the game is done.

Pinback and Ice Cream Jonsey discuss Breaking Bad S05E09.
Aug 11th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Robb: Please let me know when you have seen it.
Ben: I have seen it.
Robb: Just watching from when the garage door closes till the end over and over.
Robb: That is all I will ever be watching again on this computer.
Ben: That’s pretty much the only thing worth doing with the rest of our lives.

Robb: Walt keeps ESCALATING.
Robb: Every single sentence.
Robb: Except when his hand was up.
Robb: Every other sentence ESCALATED.
Robb: Meanwhile, Dexter still acts like nobody involved knows it’s the last season.
Robb: Just watched the last five minutes again, and
Robb: This is the first time I have ever used the “repeat loop” function of VLC for something other than porn.

Ben: Didn’t watch Dexter yet.
Ben: They were on at the same time.
Ben: My wife and I both expressed relief, since it meant we wouldn’t have to watch Dexter.

Robb: Yeah, I think the ultimate insult to Dexter and ultimate compliment to BB would be to just not download the last episodes of Dexter.
Robb: Just never know how it ends, because fuck that fucking piece of garbage and fuck it again compared to this.
Ben: Breaking Bad also didn’t do any favors to the show that premiered after it. Same thing happened with Walking Dead when it started. I’m sure it’s a fine show, but Jesus, everything looks like packaged, steamed crap after that.
Robb: They put Walking Dead on after Breaking Bad?
Ben: Yeah, when it first premiered.
Ben: And I was like “this suuuucks.” Which I now disagree with, but I mean… come on, AMC.
Robb: AMC’s schedule should have been the last five minutes of this show. Even back when it was not created yet.
Robb: It should have been a title card that said, “Hank Confronts Walt Scene”
Robb: And leave that up for two hours afterwards.

Ben: I enjoyed the Star Trek discussion.
Robb: Yes.
Robb: I liked the part where those stoned idiots were not aware that the replicator was not in TOS.
Robb: It was all excellent.
Robb: And it would have been a better episode than 50% of TOS.
Robb: And 100% of Voyager and Enterprise.
Ben: Hahha
Robb: And to clarify, I mean Matt Jones explaining the episode > all of Voyager, all of Enterprise.
Ben: Yes.
Robb: If they filmed it, clearly so, but even the version we got.
Ben: That scene was better than every episode of Star Trek except for Best of Both Worlds and the one Harlan Ellison wrote for the original series.
Robb: Let’s not get crazy, but yes.

Robb: I also like that lots of people lost weight, because they are famous now.
Ben: Aaaaah! Interesting. Interesting.
Robb: Badgur, Hanq and Skylarr all lost weight.
Robb: They are all now truly, irrevocably famous, forever.
Robb: And I think Skinny Pete dropped half a pound.
Ben: I didn’t notice that. NICE CATCH. Skaylur was thin to begin with, though, then ballooned, so maybe she just saw herself in a mirror in between shoots.

Robb: The black guy seems to have gained some, but, welp.
Ben: Mostly on the top of his head.
Ben: …mostly.
Robb: I started fucking around with the “pincushion” button on my monitor.
Robb: I thought I was going to have to buy a new tube!
Ben: The top of his head is the pile of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters.
Robb: The top of his head is where the American missiles shot out of in “The Day After.”
Ben: His head is Stewie Griffin sideways.

Robb: I will post this as our Breaking Bad analysis.
Robb: Oh, I can’t Select All from gchat anymore.
Robb: Thanks Google.
Robb: Fucking thanks, Google.
Ben: you have to download their Chrome Select-All App now.
Robb: :(

(Editor’s note: the last bit concerns the fact that Ben lives in Albuquerque and ordered a pizza from the place where the pizza pies come from in Breaking Bad. Ben and I have had previous discussions about how nobody that works there knows how to take an order over the phone and nobody that works there seems to comprehend that if you show up, you might order some pie. They act like you are an idiot for calling them or asking them about pizza.)

Ben: Oh dude.
Ben: Venezia’s (Pizza), right? Because of BB…
Robb: Love that place.
Ben: Check it, I got the 24″ PARTY PIE.
Robb: What?!?!?!?!?!
Ben: Just like on the show.
Robb: I’ve never dared!
Ben: The giant fucking pie.
Ben: They’re $3 off on Sunday so everyone was gettin’ ’em.

Ben: The greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
Ben: And I was able to get it without any of the staff apparently understanding what was going on or why I was there!
Robb: You got one for tonight’s show?
Ben: Yes. Breaking Bad Party Pie Yo!
Robb: They have no idea why anyone was there tonight.
Robb: How can you not know? If you work there.

Ben: “Hi, I’d like a 24″ pie with pepperoni, please.” “/quizzical look… hands off to coworker standing nearby.”
Robb: Ha hahahaha
Robb: They don’t know why you would just call up and order a pizza…. and they don’t know why you would order from them, tonight.

Ben: “Lemme get this straight, A, you want a “pizza”. B, you want it NOW.”
Ben: “Let me talk to my manager.”
Robb: Employee’s index finger does circles around her ear
Ben: ‘By the way, “how long do you think that’ll be.’ “30 minutes.” I came back in 12 minutes, because I know more about pies than they do, and a minute later it was ready.
Ben: I think she thought that since it’s twice the size of their normal pie that it takes twice as long to cook.

Robb: I feel that we know more about them and what they will be doing at that job.
Robb: We could show up and predict what their evening would be like, and to those animals it would be like when the one guy who knew science in 1312 could predict eclipses.
Robb: “13 minutes from now the pie will be done”
Robb: “You will get an uptick of business at the time a certain show starts on AMC”
Robb: “Two people will ask you not to cut it”

Ben: HAhahh I almost… I almost…
Ben: But I knew it was going to be enough of an ordeal getting them to prepare any kind of food product.
Robb: Just bringing the thing into the world, though it be their raison d’etre would be tough enough, you felt.
Robb: We would literally be like dark seers, or witches, except for the fact that we’ve had so much of their pie that no witch clothing would fit us.

Ben: Alright, that’s it for me.

Cyberganked: Character Portraits and Weapons
Aug 11th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The process I have been using for actors in Cyberganked is as follows:

– I place an ad (or ask a friend) if they can run through Randy McLellan’s haunted house at The City of the Dead, when the haunted house is up. (September and October, usually.)

– I get 400-500 source photos.

– The rest of the year, I incorporate these people in the game.

I don’t know exactly what I’ll need when people go through, so I try to hit every room and get a little of everything. With over 10 actors shot, I now have enough source material that I can “greenscreen” my friends if they don’t live in Colorado. My friend Chris Monahan is one such actor, and I hope to shoot Rob O’Hara next month in Oklahoma.

The haunted house is filled with items that could be used as weapons. I am trying to get “realistic yet funny” weapons in the game, along with “realistic and painful” ones. So one such made-up weapon might be a Windex container that is duct-taped to a flash that sprays acid. Another might be an AK-47.

I don’t have all actors with the same weapons. So one thing I am trying to do is depict the actors that were using certain weapons. If you equip your character with a weapon I have a picture for, the appropriate graphic becomes their new character portrait.

Because screens are fun, here are couple examples. Megan Spielhagen found a revolver in the haunted house (thanks, Megan!) and Chris had a Beretta. If you create a character and choose either one of them as the actor for your characters and give them those weapons, here is what you will see when you >look at them in-game, or if they are doing things that cause their portraits to show.

(You can click for the larger image.)

Cyberganked is being written in Hugo, and is really more of a character role-playing game than text adventure. No ETA on when I will be finished with it just yet. I have a “Cyberganked” tag on this website if you’d like to see past updates.

Cyberganked: Year One of Development Update!
Jun 27th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Next week, I’ll have invested a year into Cyberganked. This is a good time to give an update and talk about what has gone right and wrong.

In 1998 I decided that I wanted to try making computer games. I checked out the text adventure language Inform and the Bard’s Tale Construction Set. Inform was (and is) a better environment for game creation. Though I would say I enjoyed text adventures and Character Role Playing Games (CRPGs) equally in my teens, the BT Construction Set wasn’t something you could do serious, new work in.

I continued making text adventures, switching from Inform to Hugo, because the tools, community and support were so good. Additionally, making a text adventure is simply easier than a CRPG, and there is more of an emphasis on writing.

Last year I had decided to research the possibility of making a CRPG using Hugo, the text adventure language I had grown familar with. I had demonstrated bits and pieces of RPG actions in some of my other text adventures: I’ve implemented turn-based combat in A Crimson Spring, Fallacy of Dawn and Cryptozookeeper. I’ve created lists of enemies and illustrated them. So, a lot of this I knew was possible. The big thing that concerned me was handling the names of a player’s characters.

This is the sort of use case I wanted to be available:

>shamino, drop gun
>snake, equip amiga
>look at karen

I wanted those names to be anything the player could think of. Or, I wanted the player to be able to create a name and have it added to Hugo’s internal dictionary. This proved possible – I implemented it over Labor Day, 2012. I can do full names and nicknames – unfortunately, the only non-awkward way to implement it is to make the nickname (no space or weird characters) be the one you use in-game.

The other big concern I had was saving characters to disk and restoring them. This also works. (On editing this, I realize that I didn’t have much to say, but I don’t have much to say about this one!)

That brings us to this update:

Things Going Well

Maze Automation

CRPGs typically have lots of “mazes.” You’re often expected to map them. A CRPG maze is different than a text game maze. A text game maze offers obscurity and frustration due to the sameness of the room. They typically use exits that “double back” on themselves. Mapping them is done through dropping objects and seeing what happens when you move about.

A maze in a CRPG is meant to be explored. There are usually options for easily getting the x/y coordinates of the maze you are in. Dropping objects and having them persist is usually not possible, and the mazes usually have a grid-like structure.

I am not sure how many mazes (or “levels”) I want in Cyberganked. I want each room to get special attention to some degree. That means a description and a picture. To aid this effort, my friend Paul Robinson wrote a Pascal program to help out.

The program (dubbed “The Genesis Device” by Ben Parrish) takes parameters for a grid — the number of rooms along the x and y axis, the maximum chance that a fight might occur, the base names of the room and so forth. It then generates Hugo code – with linking exits! – for that maze. The algorhythm used ensures solvable mazes. Paul made it so that the maze itself is displayed in ASCII (using a fixed font) in the source code. Furthermore, the graphics for these mazes are based on the x and y coordinates, so I can create the graphics, plop them into the game and they appear with no manual code changes.

It automated a lot of work and will eliminate a ton of bugs. I no longer need to ensure that the open mazes have correct exits.

* * *

Arrow Key Traveling

Jonathan Blask was kind enough to implement something called “travel mode.” In typical CRPGs, you need the arrow keys to move around. In Cyberganked, the game is laid out with the four primary compass directions. That did make it a pain if you just wanted to wander around town defeating enemies and building experience…

Well, enter travel mode. In travel mode, the game only takes input from the arrow keys, as they correspond to north, south, east and west! You are effortlessly brought into combat. If you see an NPC to speak to, hitting ESCAPE gets you out of travel mode and back to the regular interface. It’s rather slick, in my opinion, and really makes this CRPG / text game smoother.

* * *

Day and Night

I am also enjoying the construction of a day and night cycle. I’ve been trying to shoot landscapes in night and day conditions, but there is some photoshop fakery involved as well. It’s not too obvious, due to the four color CGA palette the game has. Well, it’s obvious, but I can get away with it. I definitely recommend making games in four colors or fewer.

Things To Improve

When you create your six party members, you have many choices for character portraits. I am having the same actors and models do the same thing at the City of the Dead Haunted House in Denver, Colorado. This means that if the game has to say, “The fifth character is trying to make a call on a pay phone – go get the picture for the fifth character’s model and display it” that there is always a picture for each model.

This creates a problem, in a way – I need the models to be IN Denver for me to shoot them. And I have about a two-month window for photography, as the haunt is not open year-round.

Additionally, and there is no PC way to say this – I live in a state with mostly white and Hispanic people.

If money and resources were no object, I’d be flying actors in from all over the world to be shot in this game. I’d have 10 of each race on earth represented. I had placed ads last year and the only replies I got were from Caucasians and Hispanic people.

I could try contacting a modeling agency, I suppose, but at the same time I am trying to keep upfront costs low. I am already a ways in debt with this game.

So what I will try is to create a sort of “actor pack” with photographs that show the shots I need. I could then, possibly, try to get with models anywhere in the world and say, “This is what I need” for payment. I’ll see if it is too awkward to really get good results from.

@Cyberganked (for all the latest development news)

I Got Insulted By The CBS Fantasy Baseball Website
May 29th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Welcome. Welcome! Welcome to the future. No, not the future where I finished the Neuromancer playthrough, nor the future where I realize that a bunch of home arcade games that made me very, very happy if you follow shunted x-rays into the part of my dick that gets giggly for ten years which made it repulsively glow in the dark, nor the future where the New York Yankees can’t take four random players off the 2007 Blue Jays and be in first place with them. No, this is the future where my fantasy baseball website employs a robot that tells me to go fuck myself.

A little backstory – remember that time someone told you about their fantasy team and there wasn’t an x-ray/cancer producing old television around to point at them? I will never do that to you. I will never go into actual baseball details. Please don’t stop reading. This isn’t actually backstory, but I was hoping you would settle in if I said it was.

All websites are in the process of becoming terrible and the fantasy baseball website at CBS is no different. Rather than just giving us a flat forum to use as a message board, each post has its own little solar system and is its own little rich-content thing. You can’t just click on the message list and see who is calling who names any more. It’s awful and I told CBS but, well, I cursed at their automated e-mail system and it gave me a sharp automated reply.

I think the automated system that handles complaints for CBS held a grudge. I logged on tonight to see this bullshit, auto-posted:

Coming into the game, Mr Bandwidth (editor’s note: that’s me!) had the second fewest points of any team over the last three weeks. This week Coach Robb Sherwin’s squad scored a non-embarrassing number of points, but it wasn’t enough. They got beat by Clown Shoes 204.3 to 233.43.

The loss makes it six in a row for Mr Bandwidth, dropping their record to 2 – 6. The victory makes it four in a row for Clown Shoes, bringing their record to 5 – 3.

Clown Shoes were led by the three-headed-monster of Mike Minor, Johnny Cueto, and Everth Cabrera, who together got 94.3 of their team’s 233.4 points. Quite an improvement for Cueto, who last week scored no points. His performance this week ended a six week streak of failing to perform at a league average level.

Meanwhile, Coach Robb Sherwin will have a hard time pinning the blame for this loss on any particular player. Mr Bandwidth had six underperformers, with John Gast (-1 points) being the worst. That was the 2nd fewest of any pitcher this season.

Mr Bandwidth also had to deal with a bad performance from Alex Avila, who scored 0.1 points. Bad performances are pretty common these days for Avila, who has now underperformed the league average catcher in three straight weeks.

Mr Bandwidth will be going against SodaPopinski’s next week. SodaPopinski’s will bring the league’s top player, Clayton Kershaw, into the game.

Meanwhile, Clown Shoes will take on Finding Nimmo. Clown Shoes has now been an underdog in both the last two weeks, and won both times. Maybe they’ll get a bit more credit going into their next one.

This was generated BY THE CBS WEBSITE ITSELF. That is a 262 word treatise on how much I suck. Reading this analysis, I became aware of how little effort it took the opposing manager to defeat me. I also became the second guy this week to think Johnny Cueto ought to get punched in the face.

I started thinking to myself, Hey! I only had a low number of points the last two weeks because I pulled my pitchers when it was obvious I would lose. Who is this guy (sorry, automated bot) to give me shit about that? And then I realized that I was getting defensive over something not written by human hands. An x86 computer tried to court martial Captain Kirk once, so he went back into time and made sure his spaceship in the new time stream looked like the clenched sphincter of an Apple Store.

Anyway, I’ll probably lose again, so I expect I’ll make it easy for the bot next time, who will just post the word “Ha” 200 times.

Bundle in a Box – 7 Hours Left!
Apr 2nd, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Bundle in a Box, yesterday

I did a terrible job promoting the Bundle in a Box on my own site, which is unacceptable, because my game Necrotic Drift is part of the Bundle in a Box. I have some incredible excuses as to why I am typing this out with seven hours left to go. Rich, layered excuses. Think of these excuses as unlockable extras. Here we go!

– I went on my first vacation in a couple years, visiting my family in lovely Rochester, NY, right as the Bundle dropped, away from my PC.
– Both this site and my other site at Caltrops managed to go down for extended periods of time.
– I decided to sell my pinball table and needed a day to vacuum the cat hair off it.
– I took a Centipede cabinet as part of the trade for the pin, and it fell on me, almost snapping my leg and arm in half, on its way downstairs. Argh.

… It really is quite painful. Flying to Rochester, I mean! hrewhrwhrwehrwe

But seriously, Benjamin “Pinback” Parrish said that if the Centipede game took my head off, my body should have sprouted another one. Jonathan “Roody Yogurt” Blask said that he would have appreciated the irony if I were maimed by a “crushing” game like Dig Dug. I feel that should I ever get into real trouble and bleed out on my floor, the IRC logs of my death are going to be hilarious. I’ll be entering “9 1 1” into a high score table as I take my last breath to a cackling cacophony of wiseguys, as I get @kicked from life.

All right, so now that the apologies are out of the way, let’s talk about the Bundle. Here is the link that takes you to the page where you can buy it. The price is obscenely low. A lot of websites are obsessed with telling you how great their wares are, and why you should give them money. Since I screwed up, and managed to blog about it with seven hours left, I’ll instead link to this scathing review at Capsule Computing. Mari Shishido hated it! The people who dislike Necrotic Drift tend to dislike it a lot. Top this, Braid:

Necrotic Drift is a chore to play. Between the unbearable characters and the long parts of the game where nothing but awful banter happens, the game is not enjoyable. Having to guess at the exact word the game needs to move forward is boring and frustrating, while the rest of the time it is monotonous in that it will repeatedly allow one simple word to continue. This is a waste of time, even if it was free. Having to pay any money for it at all is unthinkable. It is not even so bad it is good, it is so bad that it is bad. 3/10

I’m glad that there’s a site out there off the 7 through 9 scale, but I have to think that a 1/10 is reserved for games that kill you when they boot. In all seriousness, I want to thank Mari for taking the time to play. Of course I wish that the game was more her thing, but the best thing about the Bundle in the Box is that you can’t beat it for the number of games included. There’s nine other games, and as soon as I have the functioning use of my nervous system again, I will be playing all of them.

Rock Paper Shotgun did a writeup on the Bundle here, so if you don’t trust me, trust them. And here is a review at GamingMomentum, where the reviewer seemed to enjoy it. I hope you get a chance to pick the bundle up. Every cent I get from it will be used towards my next game, which I’ll start blogging about here. Thanks, as always. :)

Neuromancer, Update #1
Apr 1st, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Sorry it’s been so long, denizens. I realized that I have a backlog. And what really holds a man down besides his backlog?

I purchased a used Canon Digital Rebel XT for use in the game I am making next. I’ve had this backlog for 20 years or more. Games I’ve always wanted to play. Games I’ve always wanted to finish! Did you know that I’ve never finished Knight Orc? There is one last puzzle for me to solve. Knight Orc is my boy, but I have never solved it. Well, it’s time I took care of the backlog.

I have a couple other reasons for doing this. First off, the next game I am creating is going to be a CRPG. A character role-playing game. I am describing it like “A cyberpunk Bard’s Tale.” Or an RPG where Worm can’t murder everyone. I want to learn everything about CRPGs before I make one. (I mean, I have already started, but I can still learn things.) Secondly, this CRPG is going to have CGA four-color graphics. I remember… fairly well what games were like back then. Some days it feels like I don’t remember much else. But by playing through them again I won’t have to rely on just my memory. Lastly, I just love blogs that are about a dude playing a game, uploading pictures and giving his thoughts. So why not make Jolt Country a blog about old video games. Officially, I mean.

Some quick rules to how I am going to play these games: Should I get stuck for a picosecond, I am consulting a walk-through. I won’t read a sentence more of the walk-through than I have to, but I will not sit and get stuck unless things are crazy and I am really, preposterously enjoying things. If I start discovering solutions that I could have come up with on my own, then I will give the game time to breathe. I’ll put the game down, think about it at work and see if I come home with a solution. If I get stuck due to user interface stuff, then fuck it, I am getting help. All of these games have had like two decades for me to solve on my own.

I am going to try to play them on either the Amiga or Atari ST if I can. I grew up with DOS and I love DOS. But I missed out on the awesome alternatives to the PC, and now that I have an Amiga and Atari ST I want to give them both a shot. Lastly, every screenshot will hopefully be a shot of an actual screen. There are dozens of places to get crisp shots in emulation of games, but I want to create a sort of repository of ones on the actual monitor.

If this sounds good to you then please check in to the site. I promised the denizens of my forum that I would only start publishing these if I had 20 updates ready to go. If you’re seeing this, it means that I do. I am going to kick things off with Neuromancer and I’ll discuss the actual game next!

Fantasy Raceways
Mar 26th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I was in Rochester, NY last week. I was born and raised there and since the Internet wasn’t on everyone’s Nokia Ngage when I was born (through no fault of the Ngage) I was forced to make friends in real life. Well, I made them through calling local BBSs. This is really getting preachy and judgmental (towards me) so let me just continue.

My friends Aaron and Jeff (you may have been insulted by them on the JC forum as “The REAL Man” and “Jethro Q. Walrustitty”) told me about Fantasy Raceways, in lovely Greece, NY. It’s at 3787 Dewey Ave in case this blog post inexplicably comes up when you are searching for it in the future. I took a careful look at my schedule, which was mostly the word “pizza” written seven times. I’d be able to fit a trip in, all right.

I brought my camera because I love taking pictures of arcades. Though Aaron and Jeff mentioned the slot cars, I really didn’t take them literally and I was surprised to find that, yes, there is an enormous slot car setup here.

Fantasy Raceways has a number of arcade games and pinball tables as well. By my meticulous notes, which is to say I took none, I counted Centipede, Monaco GT, Ms. Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders (not working), Environmental Discs of Tron, Tron, Missile Command, Galaxian, Monaco GP, Virtua Racer, Battlezone (don’t believe it was working), Sea Wolf as the arcade games. There was at least one other sit-down racing game that I forgot to get the name of.

Initially, I saw that the pins were Scared Stiff, Indiana Jones and Road Show.

However! I had to use the bathroom at one point. I went through the fire exit doors and took a left. (There was a Pole Position II back behind the store proper.) When I came out I saw that in one corner… was The Twilight Zone! I know that my arcade buddies are not impressed. I don’t care, I love it and made us all stick around for another half-hour to play the greatest pin of all-time.

There are two TZ on location in Colorado that I know of, and to have one in a place like this with nobody around was pretty special. Honestly, if I had one, there would be zero chance that I would let filth like myself play it. So kudos to the owner of Fantasy Raceways.

The three of us had a great time. Afterwards, we went to the new Nick Tahou’s that is in the suburb of Henrietta. Look, we’re hardened Rochestarians that could have gone downtown and enjoyed it without a problem or incident, psh. It just seemed like a better idea to go to the closest one when we picked up Walrustitty’s kids. Don’t look at us like that. Again with the judging!

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